Afghans Find Key Promises Unfulfilled
Afghanistan -- Although billions of dollars have been spent, sentiment is growing that much of the aid has benefited officials and a small, wealthy elite, leaving scraps for the millions who remain in dire poverty.
New Orleans waits. [H]undreds of thousands of residents have put their lives on hold ... leaving the shells of their houses as placeholders. But the Bush administration has now rejected the most broadly supported plan for rebuilding communities while offering nothing to take its place.
Iraq Because of unforeseen security costs, haphazard planning and shifting priorities, the American-financed reconstruction program in Iraq will not complete scores of projects that were promised to help rebuild the country, a federal oversight agency reported yesterday.
Afghanistan More than a third of rural families lack enough food for at least part of the year. Life expectancy is only 45; infant and maternal mortality are as high as in the poorest African countries. And the female literacy rate -- below 20 percent nationwide, less than 1 percent in some provinces -- remains the world's lowest.
La Instead of an alternate solution, the president's Katrina czar, Donald Powell, has offered sleight of hand, touting $6.2 billion in development money for Louisiana passed last year by Congress as if it were somehow a substitute. And in an attempt to narrow the scope of the problem, Mr. Powell says the government first needs to care for the roughly 20,000 homeowners without flood insurance who lived outside the federally designated flood plain. The real tally of destroyed or damaged homes in the region is well over 200,000. And the real need is housing for residents, whether they were renters or owners, insured or uninsured, living above the flood plain or trusting the federal government's levees to protect them from storms.
Iraq The report was released only days after a separate audit of American financial practices in Iraq uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.
But in contrast to that earlier audit, which focused on rebuilding projects financed by money from Iraqi oil proceeds and assets seized from Saddam Hussein's regime, the latest report covers projects underwritten with American taxpayer money.